Babylon (TV Mini-Series 2014) Poster

(2014)

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9/10
Darkly comedic dramedy, less ambitious and lighter version of The Wire in London
russmillerwy-957-68243914 January 2015
Bitingly funny and relentlessly profane take on public relations and police work in London. As someone who thinks The Wire is the best TV series ever made, I was very happy to find something with a similar, dirty yet hilarious tone. Like in The Wire, we follow both the people at the top and a couple of different groups of cops in the streets. There is no educational angle on what life is like for the criminals, though, or how institutions are affected by a serious social problem like the black market drug trade.

Our very self-righteous heroine is an American PR social media guru brought in to help the police reform their image. It's an uphill battle, and the street cops (think Herc, Carver, and Fuzzy Dunlop now) provide wonderful, reckless everyday examples of why. People used to stuffy British crime mysteries will not enjoy this show's sense of humor, which is irreverent and often comes from the gutter and the gallows. This is not your grandmother's Masterpiece Mystery. But if a quip from a lout that reminds you of how contemporary blue collar cops might really act makes you laugh then you're in the right place. Nesbitt is especially witty as the stern, snarling commissioner who snaps out sarcasm through gritted teeth to his smiley-faced softie aide. Danny Boyle has cooked up another something special. Definitely more like Trainspotting than, say, Millions, though. Dark.
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7/10
It just gets Better and Better.
Angry_Cockatoo26 November 2014
I was instantly hooked by the trailer back in 2013 for the Pilot in February the coming year, and i did like it. However the Pilot itself seemed off what it really wanted to be about, you could tell from the start what its goal of being a comedy show about the Metropolitan Police and the struggle with the media was, to be funny with a concrete story, and it was for the first 20 or so minutes however it soon became all too serious and dragged on. I enjoyed it but it could have been more appealing which leads me onto the fact that, the show is getting increasingly better! The first episode of the new series practically begged me to watch it, we all know what Danny Boyle's trailers can be like so i gave the show a second chance and i was right to do so, Babylon picked back up its comedic trophy and beat the serious thick boring mess that was the pilot into something amazing, Nesbitt's role becomes more funny but yet more dark, Brit Marling truly goes on an all out blitzkrieg with her highly intelligent but yet surprisingly competitive character, and all whilst the show focuses more and more of the effects on, and life of the Police but more their humanity and what they deal with. This is at the point now where the storyline gets serious, as it got too much of it during the pilot, but yet the show itself has now found the correct balance of Comedy and a Solid Story. Basically, Boyle took something that needed work instead of ditching it, and made it into a show truly worth follow up series and more than the rating it currently has. Bravo.
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8/10
Smart satire for smart people
johnklem22 April 2014
This is not for everyone. But nothing worthwhile ever is. If you have no sense of humour, if you live in Britain and feel threatened by the portrayal of the Metropolitan Police as a bunch of ignorant, prejudiced Neanderthals, if you are American and have no sense of irony then this is not for you. As a Brit who's made Los Angeles his home, I loved it. It rings horribly true. But then, I don't read the Daily Telegraph. Brit Marling is worth her weight in gold. Casting got it right and direction only endorsed it. She plays the perfect foil to the wonderfully stereotypical Brits. The best satire is grounded in the truth. I was heavily involved in the music business in 1984 when This Is Spinal Tap was released and it was frighteningly accurate. I feel the same way about Babylon and that should be cause for concern for every citizen of Britain. How well this will translate into a series remains to be seen but for the moment, I'm glad I can enjoy the joke from a distance.

ADDENDUM

Since I wrote my original review of the pilot, the series has come and gone. I've watched the first three episodes and want to change nothing I wrote. It's wonderful satire which will be fully appreciated only by those who have lived in England but its real genius lies in its tone. It's found the perfect balance. Nothing that happens is implausible, the tension is visceral and the emotions utterly grounded. But it's funny. Not laugh out loud funny but smart funny. Put a smile on your face when you remember it funny. Unless you still live in England or you are or were a policeman.
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10/10
The Series Is Much Better Than The Pilot
moiraxxxooo27 February 2015
I think the reviews and ratings on this page are for the pilot which was a bit confusing and without direction. I didn't know whether this was heading toward slapstick or a drama. The series is much better with some clever dialogue, witty one-liners and sharp but very funny insults. The acting is also great. Brit Marling is excellent as the ambitious workaholic Director of Communications of the London police and James Nesbitt is great as the Commissioner.Their relationship is intriguing and the back and forth banter between Liz and Finn played by Bertie Carvel is very engaging. I became hooked on the series and hope there is another season.
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6/10
Interesting
lzvictor12 February 2014
Looking at this in the whole, we liked it. There are times when you are not sure if it is a drama, a mocumentary, a spoof of reality television, or what they are going for. Many of the characters in this show typify the characters we see in life. The person who shares WAY too much, the one who is not there because it would mean being responsible, and the ones who do the exact opposite of what they should be doing because they think it benefits them.

We all know the ones who leak info to the wrong people and undermine their bosses on purpose. We also all know the bosses who do anything to avoid responsibility if there could be any impact other than taking credit where credit is not due. We all know the people who speak and act completely without any kind of filters except their partners.

This is a perfect example of how corporate and government organizations run today with people more concerned about their personal agendas than the good of the company, or the good of society or simply what the right thing to do. A Padalekian philosophy of avoid anything that has repercussions and throw anyone under the bus instead of actually doing anything for yourself. If this one philosophy could be avoided, the entire world would be so much a better place and this movie is a wonderful example of how so many people simply try to avoid doing what they should do and instead focus on doing what they think will advance them or undermine others around them the most in the same pursuit.

A true and excellent example of Padalekianism at it's finest only lacking the ruthless mental abuse of the ones under the subject's control. Highly recommend it because it will keep you entertained between funny and mild suspense but don't go look to this for any extreme emotion, just good simple film making that makes you walk away thinking how ludicrous a world we live in because we see all of these people in our daily lives and hope we are separated by distance from them.
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8/10
Would Like to See More
cpthollywood29 March 2014
Was on the fence for the first 15-20 minutes. But the story gets better as it goes on. Good perspective from Communications, as well as many other angles.

It may be categorized as a satire, but I don't think this should be considered a 'comedy'. It is a little stretched from reality, but is more serious than comedic...in a good way. Kept it entertaining all the same.

By the time it ended, I found myself wishing there was more. I thought this was a series, but was disappointed to see it was a Movie. I do hope they choose to put out further episodes. I would certainly continue to watch.
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8/10
the police as real people, finally..
rmamartens12 February 2014
A year ago I watched the first episode of House of Lies and found it as witty and sharp as Babylon. It takes a while to get into it, but the scene where they storm the house is brilliant. No American hero worship, but utter incompetence at the top which results into total confusion further down command. A total lack of communication and nobody is taking responsibility, because everybody is looking out for themselves. Very close to what many people are experiencing in their own jobs. Is it drama or comedy? Really can't say but I really enjoyed it. Something fresh and original and I guess that is not everybody's cup of tea.
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7/10
Energetic Satire of Media's Relationship to Contemporary Policing
l_rawjalaurence15 February 2014
With a nod to political satires such as HOUSE OF CARDS (1991) and THE THICK OF IT (2005-8), BABYLON offers an energetic satire of the Metropolitan Police and its relationship to the contemporary media. The connection with THE THICK OF IT is no coincidence; the co-writer of BABYLON, Jesse Armstrong, worked on episodes of the earlier series. In BABYLON there are two plots unfolding simultaneously: Commissioner Miller (James Nesbitt) has to deal with a series of shootings in the Uxbridge area, while finding the best way to present the police's response to the incident in the media with the help of his communications director Liz Garvey (Brit Marling). Meanwhile TSG Officer Robbie (Adam Deacon), together with his colleagues, have been selected as subjects for another television reality series on the workings of the police. Director Danny Boyle shows how both plots are linked by the preference for style over substance; it doesn't matter what you do, so long as it's presented effectively on television or through other media. The officers tend to fall into two stereotypes; they are either thuggish, incompetent or both. Although presenting a co-ordinated image, they appear incapable of making any coherent decisions, let alone formulating any effective policing strategy. Commissioner Miller seems more concerned with maintaining good relationships with Mayor Boris Johnson (whose voice has been effectively impersonated by Jon Culshaw) rather than improving his staff performance. At the level of communications, Liz tries her best to present something approximating to "the truth" about the shooting through the media, but finds herself constrained by her co-workers. Most of these satiric targets are predictable (the Metropolitan Police seems to have a perpetual problem with its operations, as well as its media presentation), but the direction is lively and the performances full-blooded, to say the least. There is definitely potential here for further episodes in serial form.
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8/10
So true its scary
philsuarez-111 February 2014
I really enjoyed this comedy drama that poked fun at the police and the world of media and spin. The portrayal of Senior Officers was spot on. Most will do and say anything to avoid blame and operate in the world of hindsight. I thought James Nesbitt was great in the role and managed to bring a human touch to his role and rank. Brit Marling is also one to watch out for. Some great quotes through out the production and whilst everything was a little over exaggerated, I thought it caught the spirit of modern policing very well. Can't wait for a full series run as I think there is plenty more scope to develop the various characters from the pilot.
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8/10
Naked bureaucracy with some good laughs.
face-819-93372612 February 2014
Warning: Spoilers
If this is just a one off, it is quite entertaining, but it looks more like a pilot for an actual series, and that could be really fun. So far it's full of a very realistic view of how the levels of bureaucracy are all trying to shuffle the actual responsibilities for the big stuff to someone else in case things go badly. It is quite well done in that way, you get to see the effect from the top down when the crap flies into the rotating blades.(you know it hits the fan) So I Enjoyed what we were given today, and if it does turn into more I will be looking forward to the next debacle. I would actually recommend this to anyone looking for an entertaining afternoon movie.

Jesse of www.Jesse.ca
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10/10
Black, compelling and seems to annoy conservative Brits. What more could we ask for?
amunro-368-7437813 February 2014
Wow, so many negative reviews from older people. This is black comedy at its best. It pretends (very accurately) to be real but is a caricature of itself. Whats not to like. Wonderful.

I'm not currently looking at so many negative reviews from IMDb, but some how this hurts the sensibilities of many British folk seemingly at a political level. Its very anti-establishment, and beautifully done, superb actors and very confrontational in that it propends to be establishment but isn't.

Interesting, compelling and very worthy. Others will comment on the skill and performance more accurately than I, but in sheer effrontery this just works fine.
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Excellent!
alicendaisy11 June 2015
Babylon is that very clever sort of black humour the British do so well with that very off kilter aspect of many Channel Four series such as the vastly under appreciated Utopia. Commercial networks churn out soulless, unimaginative, by the numbers, template police procedural spin offs such as CSI:Cyber and the even more soullessly cardboard, NCIS: New Orleans, both of which will probably be rejigged and propped up for second, maybe even third, seasons. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy NCIS, Bones and even L&O:SVU, despite the lumpen Mariska, whose Slightly Animated Brick Wall makes Nelson Eddy's acting positively Oscar-worthy. I also note now she's a producer of the current series, her character seems to be going for Emmy beautification as St Mariska of Hegarty. But, these series are produced with little artistic input other than to change the city of location and the particular dysfunctional issues the ex-Marine/Black Ops lead character has with his ageing mother/father, usually played by Joanna Cassidy or Tom Berenger. Earning revenue seems to be the main concern whereas fostering original, imaginative concepts, characters and story lines are much lower down on the producer's scale of So What, Who Cares. And Babylon? If you enjoyed the subtleties of The League of Gentlemen, then you'll enjoy Babylon But, if you're looking for a series about a law enforcement unit headed by a reformed alcoholic, divorced ex- Marine with access difficulties and mommy issues and watching them noisily solve crimes in between their own complicated love lives, you would be better to play a game of Cluedo or wait until CSI:Wisconsin comes out. If you appreciated Utopia or The League of Gentlemen, then you should enjoy Babylon.
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8/10
The truth is an offence but not a sin
zimpilgrim11 February 2014
...but the truth is proper, laugh-out-loud, funny!

If you've spent your adult (or even teenage) life having run-ins with Britain's, London-based Metropolitan Police, Babylon will resonate like real life.

It's quick-witted, sharp and cutting.

Taken from the Biblical term for evil-doers, Babylonians, the film's title is apt and the script, directing and acting are down-right funny!

From the honest commissioner, through to the modernist and radical, American PR woman, the armed response unit, the infamous, rapid response and mobile TSG (Territorial Support Group) who in real life often haven't the foggiest idea of where they are or what they're doing, right through to the over-zealous constable (a euphemism), Babylon exposes the Met police for what they are.
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8/10
Superb !! Ignore bad reviews
Very well put together spoof fly on the wall drama along the lines of 2012 and W1A and just as good. You can see bits of Peep Show shining through from the same team. Funny, well acted and with a story line that builds throughout the seven episodes.

Seriously, don't be out of by the few negative reviews and you'll see what I mean after a couple of episodes.
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S1: Professionally made but tone and content is all over the place
bob the moo2 July 2016
This show had sat so long in my queue waiting to be watched that I had forgotten why it was there in the first place. I vaguely remembered it was a comedy (maybe) and that Danny Boyle was involved in some way, but that was about it. Watching the season now I am still a bit at a loss.

It is very professionally made for sure; good locations, plenty of famous faces, technically well made, and so on. However it seems quite unsure of what it is trying to do. For spells it seems like it wants to be The Thick of It, then for others it is trying to be a straight drama, and then for large spells it is trying to mix both elements. None of this wholly convinces and it doesn't help that the whole show seems to drift in tone and content as the season goes on. So it is not that there are many things trying to happen at once, it feels like it is just gradually losing its way the longer it goes on.

The performances match this, although to the credit of the cast, they do flex as the show leads them. Nobody really excels though; mostly they have too much caricature in them, whereas in others they do feel like they are doing impressions (I like Nesbit, but he is a bit too Malcolm Tucker at times here). It does not seem like there will be a second season, and it is not really a surprise on the basis of the first. It is professionally made by talented people, so it is not without merit or things to make it watchable, but mostly it is unsuccessful. The tone is variable and seems to drift awkwardly as it goes, and the content goes with it, reducing how engaging, funny, dramatic, whatever, that it may have been.
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9/10
Life on the Beat
darrylbuckett-7545019 June 2019
When i watched the pilot, i thought it was a bit naff, but something made me watch more, so by the end of the series i was thinking why oh why didn't they make a second series, it was brilliant, great story, great character development, great actors, what a missed opportunity, whoever didn't sanction a second series needs their head read.
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8/10
Starts rocky but grows - the last 3 episodes are great!
runamokprods28 January 2017
7 part UK mini series about a young, brilliant female American PR whiz who is hired to help fix the image of London's somewhat out of control police force.

While this starts slowly, with both the dark satire and the drama (not to mention the visual style) feeling a bit forced, it consistently grows as it goes along, and the last 3 episodes, all directed by Sally El Hosaini, are flat out terrific – a near perfect mix of chilling and blackly funny, with no easy answers, and confusing questions of right and wrong.

I'm not usually a big fan of the re-make concept, but this seems like a story even more applicable and timely for the U.S. than the UK.
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5/10
Smug satire for smug people.............
ianlouisiana14 November 2014
Warning: Spoilers
If satire is what closes on Wednesday night then Channel Four is taking a bit of a punt by presenting "Babylon" as satire on an already self - parodic institution that has been satirised so many times before that there can scarcely be an aspect of it that has escaped the corrosive pens of the smug circle of media types who write for a relatively small onanistic clique of other smug media types,Students' Union members and Guardian readers . We are used to seeing the Met as an organisation of racist,misogynistic bullying,violent lying homophobes - that's non - negotiable for the metropolitan elite and those with axes to grind. Now for the first time we see the bosses portrayed as craven media whores led by a psychopath with anger management issues. Ho Ho - very satirical. And coppers swear a lot - good Lord,I would never have guessed. One of the basic precepts of satire,one would have thought,is that it should be funny.Here,"Babylon" fails miserably.There are a few pathetically unfunny lines that would have been rejected in a Christmas Cracker factory and some of Mr J.Nesbit's dialogue might just have been written by Mr B.Elton and Mr R.Curtis on a day they were staring idly out of the window looking for inspiration,but mostly it's pretty plodding - and that represents the standard of wit on display I'm afraid. Mr Nesbit is such a pantomime villain that one almost expects him to disappear in a puff of smoke to the "Ooohs" and "Aaahs" of the audience. The ladies and gentlemen of our highly - esteemed Press,guardians that they are of Free Speech are also predictably beasted. So there's nothing new there,either. The relationship between coppers and journalists has always been contentious,even when "Press Bureau" was the only department of the Met permitted to deal with the media,and there will always be those on both sides who are happy - nay,anxious - to subvert due process for a few quid.With the "News International" debacle still limping on there can be few who are unaware that those particular arms of the Establishment remain happily intertwined. So it's yesterday's news that "Babylon" is re - hashing. Hardly the cutting - edge satire it purports to be. Still,it will probably win some award voted for by the same smug elite that produced it in the first place so that they can all stagger home feeling good about themselves. Let's hope they don't get stopped by Old Bill on the way.
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1/10
Absolutely dreadful.
durham10012 February 2014
A sniper is on the streets of London on the same day as a new, American PR chief starts her job with the Met police and is at once at odds with her colleagues and superiors for going against the usual grain of dealing with things.

I am guessing that this was supposed to be a Four Lions (same writers - brilliant film) sort of dark look at a difficult subject. Unfortunately it fails on every level having neither any real humour or believable drama. You expect so much more from those involved and can only assume that Brit Marlins flawless record was put at risk by the lure of working with Danny Boyle. If you live outside of England - believe me the vast majority of our police are not incompetent boobs who can barely string a sentence together without peppering it full of slang and cursing. Nor is everyone so smug and full of bile. This show was plainly awful, full of stereotypes and a witless, amateur script. It seems the professional reviewers love it and one can only assume that to be truthful and give it the critique it deserves would be considered "unluvvie".
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1/10
DON'T! Just don't! You'll never get those minutes back.
billfernhill1 August 2016
What utter drivel. I expect better from Danny Boyle & James Nesbitt. Ludicrous story line, astonishingly appalling & incredibly annoying characters...an unbelievable farce, filled with some of the most thoroughly detestable characters ever to grace the small screen. The vast majority of the "police" in this abomination are so awful that you're almost praying for some random criminal to leap out & shoot/stab/blow up the whole damned lot of them and put us out of our misery. Whoever cast these vile characters should be demoted for forcing these unacceptably dreadful personalities onto the world. I'd heard some reports of this show being "disjointed", but it's far deeper than that. It's just awful. It could have been good, but instead, it's just a horrible waste of energy. This show stole time from my life that I'll never get back. AVOID LIKE THE PLAGUE!
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Slow, although it might seem interesting at first
ersbel2 August 2017
This is very very slow. It might seem interesting at first. Less used with the British television, the unreal dialogue and nudity meant I found something. But it gets slower and slower. Sure, it is witty to write a scene where the target is naked and has some sharp remarks to the killer cops who brought his door down. Only in real life those are trained to kill. Usually the sadist nature of the police is glossed over and the audience gets a very comfortable (for the writer) situation. It might look different if you belong to the target audience and you were frustrated by the interaction with people like the characters in this show. But that's because the show is not on screen but in your head.

A waste of time.

Contact me with Questions, Comments or Suggestions ryitfork @ bitmail.ch
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9/10
..there's lots of bad programming we are forced to endure.. thanks goodness they sometime get it right
bjarias1 May 2016
Ah, a wish to be super rich and in the business. For this is a very impressive production, in all categories (writing, casting, acting, directing, production values, et al). And should at some immediate point it would be decided that it were not to continue, it would be a travesty. The name alone after the writer's credit is Brit Marling ('your biggest fan').. and that is as it should be, for she is just brilliant episode after episode. And she is not alone, all actors down this cast listing in this entertaining work have upped their game, and viewers are the beneficiaries. We watch a lot of crap to get to the good stuff... we'll folks, this is the 'really good stuff'... may it continue on.
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